February 16, 2017
Today the Harvard Kennedy School is giving a public platform to the Royal Dutch Shell Oil & Gas Company, otherwise known as Shell, for promoting its video series “The Rational Middle”. This event is part of a Shell-sponsored media campaign attempting to control the public representation of the natural gas industry, blatantly bracketing the exploitative and destructive ramifications of its production and development to the communities affected by its local distribution and its contributions to the global climate crisis.
The most worrisome fact is that Shell is a funder of the Harvard Kennedy School Environmental Economics Program, which indicates a conflict of interest that severely jeopardizes the academic integrity of the Harvard Kennedy School. It is hard to imagine how much freedom the Harvard Kennedy School had when receiving the request from Shell to showcase their corporate propaganda.
It makes it even more troublesome that the corporate film screening will be followed by a panel featuring Shell’s Executive Vice President of Unconventionals, Greg Guidry, and other speakers friendly to the fossil fuel industry. Given the dramatic urgency of the climate crisis, which requires bold climate policies that would undermine the financial interests of the fossil fuel industry by leaving most fossil fuels in the ground, it is morally reprehensible for the Harvard Kennedy School to host an event clearly biased to portray Shell and the fossil fuel industry as a positive player.
At a time when the White House and Congress are being taken over by the fossil fuel industry, it is disheartening that the Harvard Kennedy School is also being taken over by its obscure corporate donors. The Harvard community should speak up and demand the Kennedy School to cut its ties with the carbon lobby.